Scooby-Doo has been around since 1969 and in that time, it’s basically taken on every imaginable form it possibly could. The franchise has inspired everything from cartoons to live-action movies to a Kevin Smith parody to breakfast cereals. In the past five decades, certain characters in the Scooby gang have been recast more times than Batman or James Bond.
However, one member of the gang has been voiced by one actor for the most part since 1969. Such a feat is remarkable. Let’s take a look at the man who’s had the same acting job for five decades.
How Frank Welker got to play Fred Jones, a role he initially didn’t want
Frank Welker is a voice actor. You may not have heard of him, however, you’ve definitely heard his voice. He’s been voicing Fred Jones, the series’ yellow-haired, ascot-wearing hero for longer than many of the franchise’s fans have been alive. Interestingly, he initially didn’t even want the role! Joe Barera of Hanna-Barbera convinced him to try playing Fred.
Welker told Yahoo! TV “I really liked Shaggy, and tried to have fun with that, and I know Casey wanted to do Fred because he wasn’t really comfortable doing that kind of goofy Shaggy part. But then Joe [switched us], and Casey came up with that crazy, wonderful voice for Shaggy. Joe said that Fred was the all-American hero type and that I should just do my own voice. I was like, ‘I never saw myself as the hero type, but OK!’”
Wekler had some difficulty taking on the role but found it rewarding. “I’m kind of a comedian goofball, so it was a little bit hard being restricted, but I was just happy to be a part of the gang. And, of course, being the leader! Joe would tell me that Fred’s the leader of the gang, and I would say, ‘I guess you’re right.’”
Was Frank Weller in the major ‘Scooby-Doo’ movies?
While Welker played Fred regularly since 1969 — including in numerous direct-to-video releases — the character has made a few appearances where he wasn’t played by Weller. The most notable of these appearances were the live-action Scooby-Doo movies — some of which were made for theaters and some of which were made for television. By the time those films were made, Welker was a little too old to play Fred, who is usually portrayed as a teenager or a twenty-something.
According to Cinema Blend, Fred was played by Zac Efron in this year’s animated Scooby-Doo film Scoob. However, Weller still had a role in the film. Instead of playing Fred, he played the franchise’s titular canine. In fact, Welker has been voicing Scooby-Doo in the character’s animated appearances since 2002. Rarely is one actor so thoroughly tied to a franchise for such a long time.